Posted on behalf of Gloria Hong

Jonah Berger opens his second chapter with an interesting question: which gets brought up in conversations more often, Cheerios or Disney World? Surprisingly enough, we are told that Cheerios is the winner, showing that trigger may be more important than interest for a topic to get more word of mouth. A trigger is anything that stimulates a thought or an idea, and having more frequent thoughts can lead to action, whether it be talking about it or purchasing the thought-associated product.

In fact, he continues to build upon the significance of trigger by claiming that the timing of the trigger is what determines how soon and for how long the topic of interest will get more word of mouth. A product can get popularized immediately because of coincidental events that occur and remind them of the product being sold. For example, customers bought more Mars candy bars in 1996, when NASA launched the Pathfinder to Mars. With the space mission buzzing constantly in the media, people were reminded about the candy bar more often and sales rose  accordingly. Fast forward to 2011, On YouTube Rebecca Black’s viral song “Friday” received the most attention every Friday.

What helps an idea stick for a longer time is coupling it to things that are constantly on our minds. This was the marketing strategy for Kit Kat, when they launched their “Kit Kat and Coffee” campaign and advertised the chocolate bar as a complement to coffee. With the pick-me-up beverage frequently on our minds throughout the day, we are led to think of Kit Kat more often, and eventually, led to the action of purchasing it.

Employing this concept of trigger, anti-smoking and health-conscious campaigns have also succeeded in selling their message. Most of us can recognize the cowboy depicted as the Marlboro Man, and the anti-smoking organizations have taken advantage of this by advertising an image of the Marlboro man telling another, “Bob, I’ve got emphysema.” By tacking on this dialogue to the familiar advertisement, the anti-smoking campaign has effectively triggered us into thinking of emphysema whenever we see the original poster.

Along these lines then, it makes sense that Cheerios gets more word of mouth than Disney World because the thought of cereal is more likely to be triggered during breakfast time, as shown by data released from Twitter.

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